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Secret video shows Romney rubbishing half the country

india Updated: Sep 19, 2012 02:16 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj

The week opened badly for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, with the surfacing of a video that shows him telling donors he doesn’t care for 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes. They won’t vote for him anyway, he argued.

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said, adding, “These are people who pay no income tax.”

This speech from a May fundraiser couldn’t have come at a worse time for Romney, who is trailing Obama in polls and is faced with questions about his campaign staff.

At a hurriedly called press conference in California, Romney tried to reel back the comment, saying his argument may not have been “elegantly stated”.

But the impression he gave — tactically intended not to alienate his conservative voters — was that he could have dressed the message better but not alter it.

The Romney campaign was hit last weekend with reports of dissensions in his staff, with a bunch of unidentified officials blaming chief strategist Stuart Stevens for all the problems.

Stevens, a long time aide and trusted advisor to Romney, said the campaign is going to be reset to cover a wide range of issues.

Stevens is in the middle of a blame game in the Romney campaign for a variety of mishaps: why Romney left Afghanistan out of his convention speech and who called Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood was a last minute addition to the rollout, allowed to go on stage without a pre-approved script. His monologue proved to be a distraction from Romney’s speech.

That speech was a story in itself. Stevens outsourced it to several presidential speech-writers in the conservative movement but trashed them all eventually and wrote it with Romney. It didn’t make the cut for a lot of Republicans.

But the campaign’s new strategy — if implemented earnestly — would address the biggest criticism of Romney: that he has not yet spelt out his vision. The new campaign, which is yet to roll out, will be watched for specifics. And for slips such as the May fundraiser.